Focus Groups on Your Feet

A few weeks back Anne Huff and I ran a Business Research Methods module for masters students at the School of Business at NUIM. At the end of a long three days I’m sure they were tired but we still had ‘Focus Groups’ to deal with as part of the Qualitative Methods approach to gathering data (I’m sure everyone was looking forward to that).

However, it turned out to be our most engaged session of the week with everyone participating fully. The link below is a video of the focus group session. Because it’s a huge file it will only stay up until the expiry date, so if you want it, download it. After this date, the file will be deleted from the server, and so can no longer be downloaded.

We decided to run the session by conducting an actual focus group within the classroom. This was no small undertaking as there were over 60 people present. So we had to look lively. The video gives a good idea of how these sessions may be run, even with large numbers, in an interactive manner.

Lessons we learned from the session include that students need to have control over their learning. We put them into passive mode too often in classes. Secondly, students will use what they see as usful. Most of our students are going to use focus groups principally we feel because they have seen it working. Lastly, we learned once more that there is a lot of knowledge in any group of people with whom you interact.

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About Paul Donovan

Paul Donovan is Principal Investigator at the School of Business, Maynooth University. He was previously Registrar and Head of Management Development at Irish Management Institute (IMI) specialising in Management Development. Before joining IMI he worked as a general operations manager with the Bord na Mona, the Irish Peat Development Authority. He was also Training and Development Manager of the Bord na Mona group. Paul has delivered executive development programmes in over 15 countries. He has written several peer reviewed articles, over 10 books in training and general management. He has contributed a column to HRD magazine for over 14 years. His research interest is the transfer of training. Paul holds a doctorate from Leicester University.